Diabetic neuropathy is basically a condition in which nerves are damaged on account of dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood. A diabetic condition already means that your sugar levels cannot be naturally regulated by your body. However, if sugar levels of the blood are not monitored properly, they can lead to damage to the nervous system as a result of this mismanagement.
This condition is considered as a highly dangerous state that can cause several complications in patients of diabetes. Not all diabetics can develop Diabetic Neuropathy but they are highly susceptible to this condition if they do not carefully regulate their blood sugar levels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions and Diabetes Public Health Resource state that in 2010 there were close to 26 million diabetics in the country. In cases where a person may be at risk of developing diabetes, this figure is likely to be higher.
Out of these statistics, 13 million males as also 12.6 million females are sufferers of diabetes, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In cases where diabetics do not take sufficient care of themselves in order to keep their blood sugar levels under strict control, they are at risk of developing conditions like diabetic neuropathy.
It is believed that it is not simply the fact that the patient has diabetes that leads to the neuropathy seen in these cases. The nerve damage is thought to be causes as a result of damage that the nerves suffer as a result of the high blood sugar levels. When the blood glucose level is high, it does not allow the nerves to properly transmit signals and this causes the blood vessels to become weaker. As a result, the walls on the capillaries which carry blood through the system become weaker. This can impact the way oxygen and food is delivered to various parts of the body that need it.
When the nerves are damaged, the patient undergoes a lot of pain, which in turn affects their ability to sense pain and changes in temperature.
The causes for diabetic neuropathy include any of the following:
- Nerve inflammation
- Excessive smoking or drinking
- Hereditary causes
We know of four variations of diabetic neuropathy:
The kind of symptoms that a person exhibits depends on the kind of neuropathy that they are suffering. There may be a lot of nerve damage even though it has not been detected yet, so persons with diabetes should always take care to monitor their sugar levels, even if they do not display any of the following symptoms of diabetic neuropathy:
- Searing feeling or tingling in the hands or feet
- Pain caused by movement
- Muscle related weakness and restricted mobility
- Extreme pain caused by contact with anything, including bed linen
- Loss of feeling in the outermost regions of the body, including feet, hands, toes
- Problems with balance as a result of not being able to sense things properly
A consulting physician will usually suggest tests in order to determine if a patient is suffering from diabetic neuropathy, depending upon symptoms that they exhibit. In these tests, there is usually a complete examination done of the person’s medical records, as well as physical condition. The doctor will also check if the person’s muscles are strong and respond correctly to touch, while they will also test the person’s reaction to sensations of touch, heat, cold and other conditions (Maser, et al., Diabetes Care, 1998).
According to the American Diabetes Association, all diabetics need to regularly have their feet examined in case of any lesions or open wounds that have not healed. This may also be conducted as a test done for diabetic neuropathy. Other tests to detect this condition include:
- Nerve conduction test via EMG
- Filament test done for sensitivities
- Nerve conduction and
- Sensory testing
Diabetes Neuropathy has no known cure. The most that the patient can do is to bring their blood sugar under control with the help of drugs prescribed by the doctor, as well as by making significant changes to their diet. A patient can also help alleviate the pain that they are feeling by visiting a pain clinic that can give them pain relief through neurogenic drugs like Lyrica and Neurontin.
Other types of drugs that could help are ones that contain painkillers like opiates, but these can be addictive if used on a long term basis. Doctors prescribe any of the drugs below, depending on the patient’s medical history and the type of neuropathy that has been observed in them:
- Pain relief drugs
- Neurologic changing drugs
- Laser used Treatments
- Use of Regional Nerve Blocks
- Application of Tricyclic Therapy
- Use of Nutritional Supplements
- Application of Spinal Cord Stimulation
n spinal cord related stimulation, a small electric charge is applied to various portions of the spine in order to help relieve the pain in sufferers of the condition. According to a fresh study, it was found that patients who were treated using this method had their pain reduce by 7 points during their diabetic neuropathy condition. 85% of these patients also were able to feel better in their feet, while more than 50% of patients studied had complete neurological function restored as a result of stimulation.
Not patients with diabetes have diabetic neuropathy, but having diabetes can lead to this condition. The most excellent way to avert neuropathy from developing is to do the following:
- Constantly monitor your sugar levels if you already suffer from diabetes.
- Make changes to your diet so that your blood sugar levels are well within a target range prescribed by your doctor.
- Conduct regular foot examinations to rule out any chance of nerve damage to the feet going undetected.